Sunday, June 21, 2015

Where to Look?

“Look at me when you’re I’m talking to you.”    A familiar phrase to American children (and adults.)  Making direct eye contact is an important element in American, and most Western, cultures.   It underscores the idea of being clear and direct in all aspects of communication.  

While staring, holding prolonged eye contact is discouraged, looking directly at people when they’re speaking is expected.  Speakers interpret that gaze as a sign of interest, connection. For some it’s seen as showing self-confidence, and sincerity.

Looking away, down at the floor, glancing at the ceiling or in anyway breaking that visual connection can change the impression.  The other person may wonder:  What’s he hiding?  Is she sneaky, afraid, anxious, disinterested or bored? 

And yet in other parts of the world  - in other cultures -  that same visual gesture – looking away, averting ones eyes is seen as appropriate, a sign of respect.   And the Western direct focus may be interpreted as disrespectful and aggressive. 

When talking, listening, engaged in conversation as you travel the world remember that where you look  carries a message.   More importantly that how its interpreted differs significantly.  Take care in translating this component of a conversation:  Respect or aggressive?  Confident or sneaky?  It depends.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Global Cities The Big Five (or Six)

We live in, work in and travel to cities around the world.  Each one is special in some way and we each have an opinion about our favorite for work or play.  But we often don’t  know much about these places beyond our personal experience.  To take a deeper dive into the major urban areas of the world we can reach out to and read through some interesting analyses from a variety of sources. 

One of my favorites is from the global management consulting firm A T Kearney.  They issue an annual report  on the status of cities titled the Global Cities Index and the 2015 report was recently released.

This year the report has expanded beyond the basic report -The Global Cities Index (GCI) (The GCI looks at 125 cities to consider their “global engagement”  taking into consideration five areas: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement.)  In 2015 the Global Cities Outlook (GCO) was added.  According to their press release the GCO looks at the future potential on the rate of change across four dimensions—Personal Well-being, Economics, Innovation, and Governance. 

Which cities topped the list in each category?
GCI Top Five               New York London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong
GCO Top Five             San Francisco, London, Boston, New York, Zurich

In addition they’ve now created another list:  the Global Elite   These are 16 cities that are ranked in the top 25 of the GCI, (what’s happening today), and in the top 25 of the GCO (a glimpse of the possible future).  The list expands beyond the sets of top fives we saw above and adds in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney and Melbourne.” 

The AT Kearney report isn’t the only look at the Cities of the World. The Atlantic’s City Lab calculates the worlds most economically powerful cities 

Their ranking combines the results of 5 other studies including the AT Kearney’s GCI, the United Nation’s City Prosperity Index and the Global City Competitiveness Index from The Economist.  Using these varied studies they capture rankings considering topic as diverse as gdp, human capital, financial maturity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.  Each report one merits study and reveals different facets of the many global cities.

The results?  Familiar names make their list too.   London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris. – top five here too.    But new names appear too.   Sydney and Helsinki tied at #14, Dublin and Osaka-Kobe tied at #16 and #23 is a tie between Washington, DC, San Francisco and Moscow.

It’s possible to spend hours carefully reading these studies, learning about the difference and similarities of these Global Cities.  Explore the data and discover new things about your city, your next destination, the place that will be central to your global expansion.  Which one will be your favorite, where does it rank this year and where will it be next year?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Everyone Rides

I recently rediscovered the joy of finding an interesting read on the shelves of the local public library (as opposed to hoping for something good to pop up in an Amazon search.  Soon I found myself reading How to Be Danish – A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark (Patrick Kingsley).  With a bright red cover it popped off the shelf and home it came.

I’ve enjoyed reading about Danish design, the local food revolution and their folk schools.  But what captivated me the most (so far) was in the chapter “Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.”  The idea that everyone, young, old, resident, tourist, rides bicycles to go everywhere fascinates me.  Special traffic lights for bicycles?  For a California resident where simple bike lanes are unusual that’s a surprise.

According to an article in Wired, Copenhagen is  #1 in the list of the 20 most bike friendly cities.  (The only US city to make the list is Minneapolis, Minnesota at #18)

How do people manage to commute to work, play, and run errands on a bike?  A puzzle to me.  And what do they wear?  (I remember being in China and seeing a woman wearing business suit and heels riding a bike – what poise and balance.)   A journalist, Mikael Colvile-Andersen created a blog that allows us to see what they wear, and what kind of bikes they ride:

Take a look and then think about booking a flight to ride around this amazing city.